//Hearing Update 3/1 – Last days of the Contested Case

3/1 – Last days of the Contested Case

After more than 40 days of hearings, the contested case hearings in Hilo could be over on Thursday.

“I want everyone to understand that we are done tomorrow regarding the witnesses,” hearings officer Riki May Amano instructed the parties during the late afternoon on Wednesday, March 1. “So, we’ll see everyone at nine tomorrow to wrap this up and I want everyone focused.”

Amano stressed to everyone that, if needed, Thursday’s hearing will run late to complete the remaining witnesses’ testimony and related cross-examinations. Thursday will open with completion of the cross examination of Hawaiian cultural practitioner Kalikolehua Kanaele who took the stand late Wednesday afternoon. He will be followed by the four remaining scheduled witnesses.

Since late October, there have been 43 days of hearings with 68 witnesses testifying so far.

Amano had recently hinted that she wanted the hearings wrapped up by the end of February. After adding a couple of hearing dates in March to accommodate the final witnesses, she has rejected requests by some parties that the proceedings be extended further into the month.

During the last two weeks, Amano has made attempts to keep the hearing schedule on track. Instead of the hearings normally adjourning at 4:30 p.m. each day, she has extended the proceedings an extra half-hour or hour to allow the last witness of the day to complete his or her testimony. Requiring a witness to return another day to finish his or her testimony would have further disrupted the hearings schedule, since some witnesses needed to fly in from other islands to testify.

If the hearings are completed Thursday, we’ll talk in our next blog about where the process goes from here.